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Harris v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 14, 2014

Marcus Harris, Julius Caldwell, DeMarkus Hobbs, and Dana Evenson, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., Defendant.

Kent M. Williams, Williams Law Firm, Long Lake, MN., Kyle Bachus and Karen O'Connor, Bachus & Schanker, LLC, Denver, CO., and Adam S. Levy, Law Office of Adam S. Levy, LLC, Oreland, PA., for Plaintiffs.

Jennifer M. Robbins, Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP, Minneapolis, MN., John K. Shunk, Messner Reeves LLP, Denver, CO., and Richard J. Simmons, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, Los Angeles, CA., for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend the September 9, 2014 Order on Collective Action Certification to Certify for Interlocutory Appeal Under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) [Doc. No. 104]. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' Motion is denied.

II. BACKGROUND

The factual and procedural background of Plaintiffs' case is well documented in this Court's September 9, 2014 Memorandum Opinion and Order [Doc. No. 101] and the Magistrate Judge's April 10, 2014 Report and Recommendation [Doc. No. 87] ("R & R"). Briefly stated, Plaintiffs Marcus Harris, Julius Caldwell, DeMarkus Hobbs, and Dana Evenson (collectively, "Plaintiffs"), on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, allege that Defendant Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. has a company-wide policy of requiring hourly-paid employees to work "off the clock" and without pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219 ("FLSA"), and the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 177.21-177.35.

Plaintiffs filed a motion for conditional collective action certification on October 23, 2013, seeking conditional certification of the following class:

All current and former hourly-paid restaurant employees of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. who, on or after [July 2, 2010], [1] were automatically punched off the clock and continued to work, or who otherwise worked "off the clock, " resulting in non-payment of regular wages or overtime wages.

(Mem. in Supp. of Pls.' Mot. for Conditional Collective Action Certification and for Judicial Notice to Class [Doc. No. 35], at 1-2.) The Magistrate Judge issued his R & R on Plaintiffs' motion on April 10, 2014. He concluded that Plaintiffs had demonstrated a colorable basis that they are similarly situated and were the victims of a single decision, policy, or plan, albeit a narrower common policy (relating only to those hourly-paid employees who worked the closing shift) than that proposed by Plaintiffs. (Report and Recommendation dated Apr. 10, 2014 [Doc. No. 87] ("R & R"), at 15.) Among other things, the Magistrate Judge concluded that Plaintiffs are similarly situated because they are-or were-hourly employees in Defendant's restaurants, were required to work off the clock when the timekeeping system punched them out at 12:30 a.m. or were required to punch out even though they continued to work, and were prohibited from seeking pay for the hours worked after they were punched out. (See id. at 16.) As for a common policy, the Magistrate Judge concluded that "the pressure that all Chipotle restaurants must stay within the budget goals, set on a corporate level, created a corporate policy to require employees to work off the clock during closing shifts to meet those goals." (Id. at 18.) Because he found Plaintiffs' evidence to be focused on off-the-clock work during closing shifts, however, he narrowed the broad class definition proposed by Plaintiffs and recommended conditional certification of the following collective action:

All current and former hourly-paid restaurant employees of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. who, on or after October 23, 2010, were automatically punched off the clock by the Aloha timekeeping system at 12:30 a.m. and continued to work, or who otherwise worked "off the clock" during closing shifts, resulting in non-payment of regular wages or overtime wages.

(Id. at 33-34.)

Defendant filed objections to the R & R on May 12, 2014, asserting that the Magistrate Judge erred in his recommendation of conditional certification of a nationwide collective action. (See Def.'s Objs. to the Apr. 10, 2014 R & R on Pls.' Mot. for Conditional Collective Action Certification [Doc. No. 93], at 1.) This Court reviewed de novo those portions of the R & R to which Defendant objected and-relevant to the present matter-determined that Plaintiffs had demonstrated a colorable claim of a common, unlawful policy in regard only to Defendant's Crystal, Minnesota restaurant. (Mem. Op. and Order dated Sept. 9, 2014 [Doc. No. 101] ("Sept. 9 Order"), at 24-25.) Accordingly, this Court conditionally certified the following collective action:

All current and former hourly-paid restaurant employees of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. who were employed at Chipotle's Crystal, Minnesota restaurant and, on or after April 10, 2011, were automatically punched off the clock by the Aloha timekeeping system at 12:30 a.m. and continued to work, or who otherwise worked "off the clock" ...

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